I’m in charge

Sometimes luck has it some sayings get translated completely word for word into a different language.

“To be in charge” falls into this category: essere in carica. Continue reading “I’m in charge”


Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca

Meaning The morning has gold in its mouth (which, of course, is gibberish in English). Continue reading “Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca”

Students and teachers

If you’re a primary school teacher, you are a maestro or maestra, and students will call you maestra (first name), e.g. maestra Stephanie.

If you’re a middle school or secondary school teacher, you’re a professore or professoressa, and students will call you professor (Surname) or professoressa (Surname).

Students, never to work harder than necessary, will often shorten this by simply saying prof (Surname).

NOTE: A university teacher will also be called a professore.

There are several words for student but the following two are the most used. You can call a student:

L’alunno / l’alunna (plu. gli alunni / le alunne) –> More commonly used when speaking about primary school students.

Lo studente / la studentessa (plu. gli studenti / le studentesse) 

You can also call a teacher:

L’insegnante / la insegnante (plu. Gli insegnanti / le insegnanti) –> generic term for teacher, more commonly used when referring to a primary, middle, or secondary school teacher

Il docente / la docente (plu. i docenti / le docenti) –> secondary school or univerisity level.

Do you know any other words for teacher or student? Share them in the comments and we can talk about them more!


“A feather in your cap” in Italian

The English phrase “a feather in your cap” (referring to something that would add value, importance or prestige to someone’s reputation or skill set) doesn’t directly translate into Italian.

If you said to an Italian “Questa promozione sara` una penna nel tuo cappello”, they might politely ask what illegal substances you have recently taken!

Rather, you should say Questa promozione sara` un fiore all’occhiello.

Translated directly, it turns into a nonsensical “This promotion will be a flower in your buttonhole”. The sentence probably does transcribe the  positive message that’s behind it, although of course is nonsense put in such a way.

So remember!

“A feather in your cap” is translated as Un fiore nel tuo occhiello.

“La mattina” and “il mattino”

La mattina and Il mattino mean “the morning”/”the morning-time” and are largely interchangeable, apart from a few exceptions.

You can use either word in sentences such as:

Incontriamoci verso le undici della mattina / del mattino.

Let’s meet at 11am.

E` veramente una mattina orrenda / un mattino orrendo!

It is a truly awful morning!

This said, it’s important to learn the following sayings, as either one of the other way of saying “morning” applies:

Il mattino:

Di buon mattino (Early in the morning)

Sul far del mattino (At the crack of dawn)

Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino (This is a set phrase, see this blog post for a detailed explanation!)

Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca (Another set phrase)

La mattina:

Di prima mattina (In the early hours of the morning / First thing)

Tutte le mattine (Every morning)

Ieri / domani mattina (Yesterday / tomorrow morning)

Domenica mattina (Sunday morning – this rule applies to every other day of the week!)

Da mattina a sera (From the morning until the evening. Example: Lavora sempre da mattina a sera. He’s always working morning, noon and night).

“You speak with a German accent”

I offer conversational practice in both English and Italian, and at the end of my sessions I sometimes ask for feedback on how the call could’ve been improved or changed in some way, especially if the student is new.

I am getting paid to offer a service and if I am doing anything that should be changed, I want to know about it!

Also, after each call students are prompted to give me written feedback and so far I haven’t received any negative criticism, which is both quite nice but also a bit frustrating because I know I could improve, I am not perfect.

This was the case until a couple of weeks ago, that is!

I had a call with an Italian looking to practice their English skills, and as always I made sure throughout he could understand me clearly and I wasn’t speaking too fast.

I have quite a strong Northern Irish accent, and whilst I don’t make it a secret (I wrote this on my online tutoring profile and I also have a video of me speaking in both Italian and English) I always worry it will catch people unaware.

It turns out, to this Italian’s ear I speak English with a German accent (queue smiling emoji).

I have encountered this before, with my Italian cousins. They always tease me and my husband for not speaking the Queen’s English, and I know the Northern Irish accent can seem fairly harsh at times when compared to the stereotypical English way of speaking.

I really appreciated his comments as they did make me smile. I can’t really help it, the student did acknowledge I speak very clearly (a piece of feedback I regularly get, so it’s hopefully true) but he found my German accent strange.

It’s really interesting how people from different countries can perceive other accents, I wonder if anyone else has experienced anything similar?

Romanzo criminale

Romanzo criminale, i.e. A crime novel, is a TV series I stumbled upon by chance a couple of years ago, whilst looking over the channel guide.

I think it was broadcast on BBC3, but I could well be mistaken. Either way, I watched the first episode and absolutely loved it! It was in Italian, with English subtitles. My husband wouldn’t get into it at all, he needed the subtitles and wasn’t going to invest several hours of his time reading.

Well, he missed out big time!

I will say this: this series is not for anyone below fluent level. Most of the actors often speak in romanesco, which the dialect spoken in Rome, and also pretty fast (as in, in a normal Italian pace).

You could still watch it with the subtitles, but the translation wasn’t the best at times. I remember even in the very first episode getting annoyed at the sometimes poor translation efforts, but I quickly made an effort to forget all about them and concentrate on the story.

The subtitles still made sense, but I definitely think they could’ve been worded better at times.

If you fall into the happy category of fluent or near fluent (well, if you do you’re probably nowhere near this blog, let’s face it!) I highly recommend this program. The series is an adaptation of a movie of the same name, but I’ve never seen it.

Based on true events, Romanzo Criminale follows the story of a group of friends led by Lebanese as they work to become a criminal organisation. It’s gritty and violent at times, a far cry from the usual mild series which are usually broadcast on Italian TV.

If you’ve seen it, let me know your thoughts!


Italian gestures

I’ve lived in the UK for almost 13 years, so I no longer speak gesticolando (using hand gestures). I used to get teased in school for being so animated, so I tried to suppress a lot of it and now my default-mode is gesture-less, so to speak.

That is, until I start speaking in Italian or about Italy!

This YouTube video made me laugh,  I’ve never used some of the gestures since they’re not as prevalent where I am from (the north of Italy) but I still know what they mean.

Take a look and let me know what you think (the rap, whilst slightly cringy throughout, does get better after a minute, just stick with it)!

Italian Hand Gestures RAP

Italian proverb: Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino

Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino is an Italian proverb.

It literally translates to “You can predict whether it’ll be a good day based on the morning”.

It can refer to the fact that you can generally predict how something will end, based on how it started. For example, getting flat tyre on the way to work means you’re probably in for a rough day!

Go here for other morning-related sayings and phrases!

Muri or mura! You’ve hit a wall in the plural for “wall”

The noun il muro has two correct plurals: i muri and le mura. This is an example of plurale doppio, i.e. double-plural.

They are used in two different contexts.The feminine version of the noun is used the most often, and refers to “walls” in the sense of the entity that is around/supporting something. It also the preferred noun when referring to historical structures:

Le antiche mura etrusche (The ancient Etruscan walls)

Siamo davanti alle mura del centro storico (We’re standing in front of the walls around the old town centre)

Le mura di casa (The house’s walls)

The masculine version is used when referring to walls in the structural sense of the word, for example:

I muri portanti (The supporting walls)

I muri doppi (The double-walls)